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Hypertension- The Silent Killer

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Hypertension- The Silent Killer

Dr. Sumeet Sethi
Senior Consultant
Cardiac Sciences, Cardiology

What is Hypertension?

    • Hypertension is synonymous with high blood pressure. Blood pressure is a measure of the force of blood against the walls of the arteries, which are the conduits that carry blood from the heart to other parts of the body.
    • In some people, the blood cannot flow easily through these arteries. For example, if the arteries are narrowed for some reason, the pressure will go up to keep the blood flowing. This is high blood pressure.

What are the symptoms of Hypertension?

If you have hypertension, chances are that you may not have any symptoms at all. Hypertension is often called the "silent killer" because most people who have it do not feel sick, but if left uncontrolled, it can lead to a heart attack , kidney disease or blindness. This is why it is so important to treat hypertension even if you feel fine. Many people can keep their hypertension under control by making some changes in their daily activities, such as increasing exercise and eating a healthier diet. Other people may need to take medicine in addition to diet and/or exercise.

How does one cope with Hypertension?

It is important that you become an active partner with your doctor in taking care of yourself. At first, as you adjust your daily habits to the treatment program advised to you, making these changes may seem difficult. After a while, these changes will become routine. So the sooner you begin to make these changes, the better.

Most treatments include a combination of diet, exercise and medication. Here are some important suggestions to consider.

Lose weight

If you weigh too much, your heart may have to work harder to pump blood. Find out what your ideal weight range should be. This is important to know because as you gain weight, your blood pressure sometimes increases. Losing extra weight is often the best way to lower blood pressure.

Medical care

Keep appointments with your doctor and have your blood pressure checked regularly. By doing so, you will know if your blood pressure is under control

Medication

Most people with high blood pressure need to take medicine. If your doctor sees that diet and exercise are not enough to control your blood pressure, medication may be prescribed to you.

                            • Take your medication as directed.
                            • Do not stop taking your medication unless your doctor tells you.
                            • Do not be in a hurry to bring down your blood pressure. A slow and steady fall over two to four weeks is usual and is better than a sudden fall in blood pressure, which could damage your brain or heart.

Diet

                                  • Limit the amount of salt you eat.
                                  • Do not add salt to your food.
                                  • Avoid foods high in salt.

Smoking / Alcohol

                                      • Cigarette smoking is damaging to the heart and blood vessels. If you stop smoking, this will help to lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke over time.
                                      • Alcohol can also raise your blood pressure. It is best to avoid or limit drinking.

Exercise

Exercise can help lower your blood pressure and reduce your weight. It will only help, however, if you exercise on a regular basis.